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WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, April 17, U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) joined representatives from American families of mixed citizenship status and labor, business and community leaders to urge the Biden administration to extend work permits to long-term immigrants. Also today, U.S. Reps. García, Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Lou Correa (D-CA.) sent a letter to President Biden, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ur Jaddou outlining their work permit plan for long-term undocumented immigrants.

“Implementing such a policy would benefit workers nationwide. Legal work permits would further shield immigrants from exploitation and enable them to seek jobs that match their skills, thereby fostering better working conditions. Additionally, granting work permits to long-term immigrant workers could increase annual tax revenue by an estimated $13.8 billion, according to the American Immigration Council,” the letter states. Read the complete letter here.

“I’ve heard from employers across my district. They need workers, and they want to hire the ‘right way’. I’ve heard from my constituents who have been waiting for too long to get work permits,” said Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García. “Our message to the President is clear. It’s past time we provide immigrants, who’ve already been doing the work and keeping our country running, with the work permits they deserve. Jobs not only create opportunities for immigrant families, but also bring stability to entire communities. We are stronger because of immigrants, not despite them. Expanding access to them is a matter of economic justice.”

Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, said, “We are inspired by President Biden granting work permits to new migrants and ask that he extends the same dignity of a legal work permit to long term residents, including spouses of U.S. citizens.”

Maryland State Delegate Ashanti Martinez is chair of the Maryland Legislative Latino Caucus. He stated: “My first day as chair of Latino caucus was the day after the tragedy at the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Six immigrant workers were killed doing exactly the hard, dangerous jobs that this country depends on to function every single day. They are the latest, tragic reminder of the sacrifices immigrants have made for years, even decades, many of them without any path to the security and stability of a work permit. Immigrants who have been contributing to this nation have waited too long. President Biden, you have the power to act. These are our family, neighbors, friends, colleagues. Our communities are sick to death of waiting, and waiting and waiting for action from our leaders to benefit the very people who are growing our economy every day. They deserve this protection and our country will be better for it.”

Gerardo Diaz represented his family and American Families United. He said, “I’m a blue-collar American, born and raised in Aurora, Illinois. I’m tired of waiting for you, President Biden, to act for my two beautiful children, my daughter Nathalia, 7, and my son Gerry, 2, who I haven’t been able to live with for two years because they are with their mother, my beautiful wife Elizabeth, who was rejected at her immigration interview in El Salvador and hasn’t been allowed home. How many more American families will have to be separated like mine before you use your authority? My daughter Nathalia and son Gerry are waiting for your answer.” 

Added Sam Sanchez, owner of Third Coast Hospitality and a Board Member at the National Restaurant Association, “The President has provided work permits to 1.4 million new arrivals over the last 13 months from Venezuela, Cuba, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Nicaragua, Haiti and more; while 8.1 million Mexicans have worked and paid taxes to this country for 20, 30 years and never had a legal work permit. These individuals have been waiting for work permits for decades and now have U.S. citizen spouses and children who are of voting age. It’s offensive that the White House is denying my employees and other immigrants the same dignity of a legal work permit being granted new arrivals. President Biden, if you like our labor, our sweat and our taxes, please, please extend the dignity of work permits for Mexicans and long-term immigrants.”

“I am a single mother to two beautiful children who depend on me as the head of the household. As an essential worker, I have had several injuries from my workplace,” said CASA member Maria Rodriguez, a Baltimore construction worker. “Because I have no work permit, I do construction types of jobs. I complete my job with a lot of pride, but I fear something might happen to me and my children will be alone here in this country without me.”

Roushaunda Williams, Member/Leader UNITE HERE Local 1 and the Executive Committee of Illinois AFL-CIO, said, “As a mother of two sons and a former caseworker for young people in the state’s care, I have often wished I had a magic wand to protect our children. Well, we can create magic right now by expanding work permits for long-term undocumented people. We can ensure that immigrant families and children have the stability and protection they deserve.” 

Evelyn Barrios is a Dreamer who attends DePaul University and is part of Pilsen Neighbors. She said, “I was the first in my family to finish high school and will be the first to graduate from DePaul University, with a degree I cannot use. For 16 years, I have fought to defend my right to study, work and simply live here. I have put so much effort into studying and working without knowing if I will be able to pursue my dreams. After graduating, I will pursue my Master’s. But how many degrees do I need to prove my worth? We need work permits for everyone. I urge President Biden to expand work authorization for all immigrants in our communities. We need a solution that allows us to live with dignity.”

Manolo Betancur is the owner of Manolo’s Bakery in Charlotte, North Carolina, an immigrant from Colombia and a social entrepreneur. He said, “As a Small Business owner and an American citizen, I need more people to work with, and I don’t have it. As a father, I can’t imagine my life here with my family deported.  As a citizen, I say family separation goes against the values of this nation. Please, President Biden, we are better than this and we can fix it.”